Last week, the Deans’ Office informed international students of a new winter break housing option in response to ongoing concerns regarding housing difficulties. The announcement stated that the College has negotiated availability at the Holiday Inn in North Adams for 60 students over winter break at $300 per student ($60 per night). A room in the Holiday Inn regularly costs $95 per night. Thus far, three students have inquired about this alternative housing option.
The Holiday Inn rooms are “just another option I’m providing to international students” said Gina Coleman, associate dean for international students, who negotiated with the manager of Holiday Inn for the room availability over the break period. This is the first time this housing deal has been offered to students. With its location in downtown North Adams, the hope is that students will have access to attractions and living necessities that Williamstown cannot offer while the College is closed for winter break. The Berkshire bus system goes through North Adams, allowing students access to locations such as Walmart and Stop & Shop.
“With the College shutdown, there’s much less to do here in Williamstown for students who remain in the area,” Coleman said. “North Adams provides many more amenities for students.”
Gonpo Lama ’12, chairman of the International Club, is currently organizing a service trip for international students over the break, but he also sees the Holiday Inn rooms as a positive option for international students who are searching for a place to stay this winter.
“I think that the Holiday Inn idea is a great one” Lama explained. “That, coupled with the service trip, Christmas International Housing and any other arrangements made individually by international students, offers a variety of options that international students can now choose from. This relieves a lot of stress on the part of international students and we can now go ahead and re-focus our attentions on more collegiate pursuits,” he said.
While some international students appreciate the new housing option, others believe that student housing over winter break still poses a dilemma.
“Two weeks in a Holiday Inn isn’t really my idea of a merry Christmas, but I’m glad there’s finally a more financially viable alternative that no longer obliges international students to be at the mercy of kind friends or strangers,” said Woo Chan Lee ’11, an international student from South Korea.
“I think the Holiday Inn option is terrible unless it’s a strong group of internationals,” said Diego Flores ’11, who is from Peru. “I would hate to stay alone in North Adams, in a double room in a motel, paying $300 just for rent,” he said. Flores suggested that international students who were having difficulty finding a place to stay over winter break should talk to Dean Coleman.
“The important question is not what options does the College make available for the international student body at large, but how do we make sure that those students who need help are assisted,” Flores said. “I know it feels like the College is adopting some sort of ‘save yourself’ attitude, but they are very helpful if you seek it.” Flores suggested that if any students would be willing to host an international student over break, they should make a post on WSO.
“Hopefully we can negotiate this deal with the Holiday Inn in years to come, but that all depends on how many international students are interested,” Coleman said.